Public Punishment In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

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Throughout history, different forms of punishments have been used regardless of how they might affect the person. Many times, when someone tries to help another person, they end up making it worse rather than truly help them. In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates the unknown consequences to such punishments. The scarlet letter’s effect on Hester was not positive, this form of public punishment negatively affected not only her view of herself but also her emotional and mental state. The scarlet letter branded her as nothing but a representative of sin therefore making her an outcast in her community. Everyone thought Hester to be a sinner and avoided her, even the children who may not understand her crime. When the children…show more content…
Hawthorne also uses the symbolism of the sun to drive home the idea that the scarlet letter caused her to be avoided. Pearl even said to her mother that the sun “does not love [Hester]. It runs away and hides itself, because it is afraid of something on [Hester’s] bosom” ( 172). Like many Puritan’s, the sun runs from Hester. Most of the community felt that by getting close to Hester, they too would become a sinner. They felt she would somehow corrupt them, as if she was doing the Devil’s work. Due to this isolation, Hester began feeling that her entire being was a sin. This letter was supposed to be saving Hester, yet now she has lost hope of redemption. For many, Hester wasn’t a person anymore but rather the letter. When Hester stood beside Pearl, looking at their warped reflections in the armor, the scarlet letter was exaggerated so much that it was the only thing seen of Hester ( 84). The letter had taken over Hester,, reinforcing the belief that she was just a sin. Before feeling as if she was a lost cause, she felt the only way to be saved was to hide what contributed to her sin which is the same as covering up who she is. In the woods, where no one could see and the temptation was
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